How to Freeze Fresh Green Beans

How to Freeze Fresh Green BeansMany people are resistant to freeze foods because they believe they will lose their freshness and will not be as good later. However, when frozen, green beans will last several months and they will not lose their amazing flavor. Here are some tips to freezing fresh green beans so that they can be used in any meal—and be full of crisp flavor!

 

Purchase Fresh Green Beans During Their Peak Season

You will want to purchase your green beans during the summer through the early fall seasons. This is when green beans taste the best and are known for their great flavor.

How to Select the Right Green Beans

You want to choose green beans that are brightly colored. The more colorful, the better! These green beans will, ideally, be blemish free, where they are not limp or shriveled. You want them firm and bright green.   

How to Freeze Green Beans

One of the most important things to remember when freezing green beans is to trim them before hand. Grab a handful of green beans and, using a sharp knife, cut off the stems. Do this for all of the green beans you want to freeze. Some people will also cut the tapered ends, this is completely up to you.

Remove the Fiber

Some beans will feature a stringy sort of fiber within the bean, located in the bean pod, that should be removed. However, if you do not see one, this means that your type of beans do not have this and you do not have to worry about removing it.

Cut into Small Pieces

Next, you should cut the green beans into small and bite sized pieces. This works out great because most recipes that feature green beans, such as a stew or casserole. You will want to cut the beans into 1 ½ inch pieces. If you know that you will not be needing the green beans to be in small pieces when you want to cook them in the future, you can choose to skip this step.

Blanching the Beans

The next step is to blanch the beans.  To do this, you will need to boil a pot of water. You will need 1 gallon of water for every pound of green beans. Boil the beans for approximately 2 minutes. If you did not cut them into small 1 ½ inch pieces, then you should boil them for approximately 4 minutes.

Freeze

After they are boiled, you want to immediately cool the beans by using ice water. Once cooled, drain beans from ice water.

Next, start putting the green beans into your freezer bags. You want the beans to be as compact as possible but still leaving about ½ inch to close the bag. Seal the bags and place in the freezer for freezing.

For those looking to preserve the freshness, or if you are using a lower quality freezer bag, you may consider using freezer tape on the seal to make sure the air is locked out.

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Quick Snacks

Homemade Popsicles

Quick Snacks for on the Go Families

It can be challenging to eat healthy when on the go. As a busy family, you're probably consumed with running around for sports and dance practices, school, work and entertainment with hardly any time to prepare a healthy meal. Forget the drive-thrus and prepare an easy frozen snack that you can make ahead of time. If you have a couple of go-to recipes you can fall back on when preparing frozen snacks ahead of time, you're all set. All you have to do as you head out the door is microwave these treats or just eat them as is. If you plan ahead, you can leave them out on the counter for a bit to thaw.

Veggie Muffins

OK, you may want to change the name so your kids will actually eat them, but these to-die-for baked goods are perfect for grabbing on the way to school. They're single serve, too, so take one, or take a bunch. Kids can toss a frozen one into their lunch bags and it's thawed by morning snack. These muffins are packed with vegetables as well as applesauce and orange juice for a kick of sweetness.

You'll need an egg, 3/4 cups OJ, 1/2 cup applesauce, just a 1/4 cup sugar (sweet!), one cup each of white flour and whole wheat flour, one tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt to taste, one tsp. cinnamon, one cup each of shredded carrot and zucchini, and 1/2 cup raisins. Simply beat the egg in a bowl, add the juice, applesauce and sugar, followed by the blended dry ingredients and the fruit. Mix until moist, then fill cupcake pans 2/3 full. Bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Freeze individually, and thaw as needed.

Peanut Butter Pizzazz

For a healthy frozen snack you can make ahead, go for peanut butter for a punch of protein and fiber. Mix peanut butter with your kid's favorite yogurt, add some raspberries and place in pop-shaped plastic containers to store in the freezer. Need a quick snack? Grab a pop and go. Protein, calcium and fruit all in one!

When incorporating frozen snacks into your daily routine, keep in mind that organizing and labeling is key. Mark the date on the frozen treats you make to ensure their utmost freshness. Stack neatly in the freezer or throw them in the ice bin, depending on the size and space. You won't mind when your kids help themselves to these snacks!

Start Easter Dinner Now

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With Easter quickly approaching, even the most astounding chef is beginning to feel the stress. Instead of racing to get everything prepared the Saturday before, try some recipes that can be made ahead of time, frozen and then defrosted on Easter Sunday.

Gather Your Appetizers

Before diving into the main meal, your guests like to enjoy appetizers. Purchasing ones that are already frozen is one way to cut down the amount of cooking you have to do. For this holiday, you could also make some meatballs in cranberry sauce or Easter bread in advance. If you opt for the braided Easter bread, don't make the eggs until the day before, or on, the holiday.

Warm Soup

As we go more and more into the spring, you are less likely to crave soup, so this holiday might be one of your last chances to enjoy a warm bowl of it. Whether you want to have one last round of butternut squash soup or you'd prefer something lighter like chicken vegetable, soups tend to freeze very well, so you just need to reheat after the appetizers.

Have Some Pizza

On Easter Sunday, many families like to eat a variety of breads, and pizza may be on that your family enjoys. You could make an Easter pizza by rolling the dough into the shape of an Easter basket, an Easter wreath or, if you are really creative in the kitchen, an Easter bunny. You'll have to consider which toppings you want to decide if that portion is make ahead or not. Try to keep it lighter since this is not the main course, and make the crust thin.

Any Italian Dish

Depending on the cultural background of your family, having a full course of Italian food before the leg of lamb may be traditional. Fortunately, most Italian food is make ahead friendly. Baked ziti, lasanga, stuffed shells, meatballs and sausage in sauce, ravioli and manicotti are just a few of the ideas. Sauce freezes well too, so you can make a big tub of it.

Main Course Ideas

Cooking the lamb or ham before and then reheating it is a possibility, but you are unlikely to have as flavorful of a piece. Instead, prepare the lamb/ham the night before, so you just need to pop it into the oven on Easter. It will need time to cool and rest a bit, so you can bake side dishes then. Look for side dishes that are easy to make such as vegetable casseroles, mashed potatoes and pre-made rolls.

Infusing at least some of these ideas into your Easter dinner recipe will make for less of a hassle this year.

 

Cool Treats

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If you grew up in an area that experienced warm summer weather, then you already know that enjoying tasty ice-cold treats during days when the temperature is soaring is one of the supreme delights of childhood. If your little ones are clamoring for delicious heat-relieving confections this season, you may be reluctant to provide them due to the amount of fat and sugar that many of these delectable delights contain. However, you can easily create frozen treats at home that will surpass the store-bought type in taste, as well as pack a hefty nutritional punch, while being light on the sugar and fat. All you need to get started is a freezer and some fresh produce from your garden or the local farmers market.

The most basic hot weather fruity treat is simply frozen berries. You can place them flat on a cookie sheet on wax paper. This works best for blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries and loganberries. After they are frozen, the berries can be popped into mouths that need quick respite from the heat of a sizzling summer afternoon. This method also works well with individual grapes.

Ice-cold fruity smoothies are another healthy option that can be quickly and easily made from berries and other summer fruit. Using plain yogurt, fruit juice and milk as a base, you can whip up delicious shakes in the blender using pretty much any type of fruit that you choose. Using frozen fruit reduces or eliminates the need for ice. All types of berries and bananas seem to go particularly well together, and those who want a little extra sweetness without using refined sugar can sprinkle in some cinnamon and drizzle in some honey. (Tip:  if you have too many bananas ripe at once, you can peel, slice and freeze one in a zip bag for future smoothies.)

Remember how much you loved slurping on old-fashioned popsicles back in your childhood days? Your children can enjoy the same treat without the bothersome sugar rush that used to drive your parents crazy when you and your siblings got all hopped up on empty calories. All you've got to do is put 100 percent juice in the blender, add some cubed watermelon, peaches, bananas, mangoes, apricots, plums, grapes or whole berries if they're small. Blend until well-mixed, pour into popsicle molds, and freeze. (You can use small paper cups with a stick or plastic spoon in a pinch.) In only a few short hours, you'll have a healthy and delicious hot weather snack that won't leave your children bouncing off the walls due to an overabundance of refined sugar.

Don't be afraid to get creative when making your summertime treats, and allowing your children to help out will teach them basic kitchen skills as well as spark an interest in good nutrition.

 

Tater Tot Casserole

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When you were a child, you probably looked forward to any meal that included tater tots. This simple little potato nugget tastes similar to french fries, but tater tots somehow seem more exciting and delicious than ordinary fries. Your kids probably love them as much as you did, but when you're trying to eat healthy, you tend to skip frozen foods in favor of something you make yourself. Once you take a lot at this recipe for tater tot casserole, you might find yourself excited about tater tot night again.

Start with one pound of boneless chicken. Chicken breasts are delicious, but chicken thighs are a little more economical. No matter what you choose, cut the chicken into bite size pieces and set inside a skillet. Cook the chicken over low heat until cooked through. If you prefer beef, cook a pound of ground beef instead.  Add one small can of cream of mushroom soup, or make gravy with the meat drippings by adding some broth, milk and flour. Add one cup of water to the mixture if you use the soup, and stir until well combined. While the mixture cooks, add one bag of frozen corn and one bag of peas, or the equivalent in your favorite frozen vegetables.

Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased or buttered baking dish. Pour one bag of tater tots over the top of the mixture and make sure they are evenly spread around in one layer. If you're feeling a little fancy, you can arrange the tater tots in a pattern on top of the casserole. Bake the mixture for 25 minutes at 425 degrees or until the tater tots are lightly browned on top. This is also a great make ahead dish. Place everything inside the dish except for the tater tots and cover with plastic wrap. Thirty minutes before dinner time, remove the dish from the freezer, top with the tots and bake as directed.

Tater tots aren't just for dinner either. Create a quick make ahead breakfast dish with tater tots, bacon, cheese and eggs. Whisk one dozen eggs with ½ cup of milk and season with salt and pepper. Cook one pound of bacon until slightly crispy, and arrange the bacon in the bottom of a casserole dish. Cover the bacon with one bag of tater tots (spread evenly) and pour the egg mixture over the top. Cover the eggs with several handfuls of cheddar cheese and bake at 325 degrees until the eggs set.

Tater tots are a great and versatile food. You can pair these little potato nuggets with a simple turkey hot dog for a quick and simple dinner, or you can create a make ahead dish for those nights when you don't have a lot of time. Some stores even carry sweet potato puffs, which will add more nutrition to your meal...and they're delicious!